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>> this house foreign affairs subcommittee hearing is an hour and a half. >> we will now call a hearing to order. this is a very important hearing in my opinion. some of them are not nearly as important as others. this one is extremely important because greg and i, the ranking member, we are all concerned about the influence of iran in the entire region, also in the gulf region. so today we are here to discuss
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the expanding influence in the south caucasus, but we're also talking about, i intend to talk about some of the problems in the persian gulf region because that's a vital interest to us. the straits of hormuz, persian gulf, or the swiss canal are blocked in any way they could have devastating impact on the united states because we still get a large part of our energy from the region. i traveled to azerbaijan an armenian in early september. and i also stopped in georgia and met with the president. when i talked to these leaders, iran was one of the things that came up at the very beginning, because they'll feel the influence and the aggressive attitude underneath cover so to
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speak of iran. in particular, i think azerbaijan feels a great deal of concern, and when i talked to the president, members of parliament and others, it was readily apparent to me that they thought that there ought to be closer ties between azerbaijan and the united states, and georgia, and hopefully armenia. because iran is really trying to destabilize or undermine those governments are we believe that is their long-term goal. iran has been involved in terrorism as we know for some time. it's partly unique in that area. we have seen the i-beam regime operating through organizations such as republican guard and employ such tactics around the globe including right here in washington, d.c. however, the proximity of the
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south caucasus to iran as well as strong relationship with armenia, azerbaijan and georgia. have with both of the united states and israel, it increases the appeal of the iranians for targeting those countries. i applaud those governments in the region for the vigilance against the iranian threat. however, i'm particularly concerned about the security at the u.s. embassy as the agent location of the facility leave our people there particularly vulnerable. i often find myself comparing the geopolitics of the south caucasus to accordion not. a tangle of current events of these countries in the region isolated from their neighbors. unfortunately, such isolation can blame to the hands of hours laying on the periphery of the region. press reports and conversations i had while i was in the region indicate that iran is taking or at least has the potential to take advantage of armenians regional isolation and thus the
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country's economic dependence on their common border to use armenian banks and enterprises to skirt international sanctions. the united states and our regional partners including armenia must be vigilant by fully comply current laws and regulations, and by a many sanctions is needed to close the loopholes. i hope that legislation is currently pending in the congress makes it way through rapidly and will do just that. regarding energy, sanctions are an essential tool and our continued attempt to isolate the iranian regime. however, we have to recognize that for many countries in the subcommittee's jurisdiction, decreasing consumption of iranian energy means increasing consumption of russian energy. such a chain reaction is not in a national interest of the united states. the solution to this problem requires renewed american leadership or partnership to increase the development of resources that lag across the south caucasus. and central asia as well as the
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infrastructure, the pipelines and other things needed to transport these resources. i would also like to elaborate a little bit more about bahrain. we have some people on the panel today that we will ask questions about bahrain. and they have some intimate knowledge of some of the problems that have taken place there, and as i said before, the concerns that we have in the car cases, the whole region is only a part of the concern that we feel for the region. bahrain has been an ally of the united states for a long, long time. we have our fifth -- and the attempts by iranians to work with dissident forces there in bahrain to undermine the government is something that we must be concerned about. i talked to the leadership over there, and they are concerned
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about the problems that some of the people feel toward the government and they have tried to work with them to solve that problem. so far the problems have not all been solved. and for that reason they continue to try to work with them, even though we know and they know from intelligence sources that iran is stirring things up over there and trying to undermine that government. says with great relationship with the government i think it's extremely important we try to work with them as long as we have a fifth fleet there and it is vital to the united states interest that we do everything we can to solve the problem, the problems in the country without giving iran the ability to undermine and destroy that government. and in conclusion let me just say that the south caucasus is of extreme importance, and we have to do with us a number of people from azerbaijan, the senate delegation is here to follow this hearing because they are very much aware of how
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important it is that we eliminate the issue of iranian expansionism, or the ability, attempt to expand our influence throughout the region. the united states must not look weak in this entire region. we have to look stronger if we look like we are weak, it will give them the encouragement that they need to continue to move throughout that whole region. we are concerned as my colleagues now, libya, concerned about egypt, concerned about syria. we are concerned about azerbaijan, armenia, and georgia, and the gulf states, especially bahrain right now. so i will end up by just saying that this is going to be probably my last hearing as chairman of this committee. my good friend, greg, and msha my other colleagues will do everything they can to make sure we continue to pursue this issue to make sure that not only the region is secure but our interests, united states of america's interests are safe as
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we'll. without i yield to my colleague, mr. meeks. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to thank you for holding as you said this most important hearing. but i also want to say to a degree sad, that because this probably will be your last hearing here in the united states house of representatives after almost three decades of service to our country, and we want to salute you for that. some, you know, maybe with regret not having used to stick around anymore. but we indeed are going to miss you, and i have to say that it's been an honor and a personal privilege for me to sit as a ranking member and to work with you over the last few years on the subcommittee. you have been a chairman that has been very fair and open, and we work together and you will be missed here. and so i hope that as you
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retire, you enjoyed a fruitful and prosperous life with your beautiful wife who is here, and your family. you have a great retirement, and maybe now they will have the time to schedule a round of golf with bill clinton. [laughter] >> that's an inside joke, folks. >> let me turn to the subject at hand. i believe we're dealing with an important question in the south caucasus region which reps in a complex of the both regional alliances and conflicts, bitter rivalries, degrees of western orientation, desperate economic trajectories, and a potential venue for instability and even violence. in terms of you in the south caucasus region from the perspective of the subcommittee it is important to note some of our strongest instruments, the euro atlantic institutions of nader, the european union, have a weak presence, and, therefore,
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are not as relevant as they are in the balkans. ultimately this means that europe and the united states have less leverage in the region. this allows other countries in the region to compete or political, economic and military influence in the region. i'm looking for to hearing eyewitnesses discuss this issue today. really want to hear what you have to say. i believe that armenia, azerbaijan and georgia, trustworthy allies of the united states better realize full well that their bilateral relationships are complicated and that they have to take their immediate neighborhood into account also. with only two open borders and one of them being with iran, armenia faces the constant threat of isolation. this is a for driver in managing armenia's relationship with iran.
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azerbaijan has a sizable diaspora in northern iran, by vastly different strategic social and political orientation than iran's leaders. despite a potential religious incident between iran and trenton, iran has a stroke decided with armenia over the contested region. furthermore, azerbaijan and joys the solid relationship with israel. which further distances terrain from one another. georgia has the strongest western orientation in the region. and my sense is that this will remain intact even after the change of government. but like any other country what other country majority seeking economic opportunities everywhere. including potential trade or investment relationships with iran. i believe there is a potential for iran to exploit a copy
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relationship between each of these countries. and that the others in the region have significant regional interests that compete or overlap with iran. simultaneously each of the south caucasus nations play an important role in western relations with iran, particularly their ability to comply international sanctions. and i think it is important for the united states policy towards the region to find ways to strip this compliance. russia appears to want to limit both the influence of the united states and turkey in the south caucasus, but it is unclear to me whether they also seek to minimize iranian's influence. i have followed with great interest turkey's attempts. and my sense is that such a step holds the greatest potential to improve both stability and prosperity in the region. lifting our means isolation would not only allow for greater independence from iranian and russian influence, it would also
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be mutually beneficial for turkey and her meaning and a number of ways. i'm interested in hearing the panels perspectives on whether this is an issue that turkish and a meaning governments might be able to reengage in. but we can all agree on is this, as i conclude, is that it is in no one's interest to see a nuclear-armed iran. and i look forward to exploring how the south caucasus region and help the united states and europe prevent this outcome. we cannot have that as an outcome. i anxiously await hearing the testimony of our witnesses, again, mr. chairman, it's been a pleasure and i think that this hearing is very timely. >> thank you very much, and i'm sure my wife appreciates those nice comments. thank you for that as well. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. this is a special day for me as
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well, a bittersweet day. after having had the honor of serving the people's house for 26 years, and on this committee for 24 years, and had the honor of chairing the subcommittee, i can't tell you what an honor it spent to serve with you, dan, not only on this committee, but next-door neighbor in the rayburn building for many years, and for bringing this important issue before us today. i can't think of anything that seems to be more timely than bringing this issue up today. i would like to also associate myself with the comment that our ranking member made, a good friend of mine. by recognize that mr. burton does have a beautiful wife here in the audience today, i also have a beautiful wife in the audience here today your we've had the great honor of having
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you and her home in california. and i will leave the porch on for the two of you and hope that you will join us out west. it's been an honor to serve with you, jeanne. the three of us will be leaving congress here in a few days. it may be quite a few days with the way things are going on the hill. and over on the other side of town. hopefully we will get through that. but words can't express the honor that i've had, that i feel for having the opportunity to do so me of the things we have done, and this being our closing hearing. i want to make sure we have ample time for all of our witnesses today so i will defer from an opening statement. i would like to place one into the record as a part of the hearing. and just thank you all for friendship, the dedication you show this great country for all
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the years, and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> well, without objection your statement will be in the record. but i want to tell you, we are patting each other on the back here today because is probably the last time we will be able to do the. you've been a great never, to. i really enjoyed it but i'm glad you are leaving the light on. you have a beautiful house in california an extra bedroom, so i may be going out there. >> porch light is on spent and transport is going back to ohio, and jean, you have been great as well. >> first off, parting is such sweet sorrow. i'm only sorry that more people are not here to listen to this panel on what i believe is one of the most critical national security issues that the world faces. and i'm glad that congressman meeks will be carrying the boehner for this very important region in the world. it's important for a lot of
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reasons, but one of those reasons is the potential for energy, energy to really free western europe from other alternative sources that may not be right for them all right for the world. and that it is not in certain countries best interest, iran, russia, come to light for the pipeline to go through, to bring those natural energies, oil and gas resources to parts of the world that would like to have an alternative source. and i think it is important for congress to keep an eye on this region, and to make sure that the ability that is in place continues and that these emerging markets are allowed to continue to grow and prosper. because i truly believe that they are a bright spot in the world's future. i yield back. >> thank you very much.
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ariel cohen is the leading expert in russia, eurasia, eastern europe and the middle east. he serves as a senior research fellow in russian and eurasian studies and international energy policy at the heritage foundation and we're glad to have you. thank you very much. michael rubin is a resident scholar at the american enterprise institute, and a senior editor of the middle east quarterly. he was a former senior advisor at the pentagon. thank you for being here. doctor brenda shaffer is a specialist on call cases ethnic policies and iran, caspian energy, energy and foreign policy and eastern mediterranean energy issues. she previously served as the research director of the caspian studies program at harvard university. should have been a big ten school. in january, she will be a visiting scholar at georgetown university center for eurasia, russian and eastern european studies.
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alex anthony to specialize in middle eastern affairs with a focus on iraq to join the middle east institute as an adjective call in 2007. he also lectures as a senior fellow in middle east studies at the u.s. air force special operations school and that the defense is a good of security assistance management. want to welcome all of you and would will start, i think will start with you, dr. shaffer, since you're the prettiest gal at the table. >> thank you for the opportunity to testify in front of this committee. would often think of iran as the middle eastern country but actually it sits in the crossroads of a number of regions, southwest asia, central asia and the caucasus. and actually the influence between iran and the south caucasus is two ways. not only is iran as you point out directly extremely active in diversion in the region and destabilizing any of the countries that are pro-western in the region, but also there's two-way influence because iran
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is both multiethnic edged up after member have the operation of a rant is in persian. the whole of the population of iran, a third is ethnic pashtun die. this is what drives iran's policies in the region is to destabilize other to make sure its own ethic by jordi's will not be detracted. and for this reason we find the islamic republic of iran is actually an ally of christian armenia in its struggle against azerbaijan. and attack the war effort, the occupation of armenia, about 20% of our push john the character would have taken place without iranian supply, iranian support. and, in fact, the ethnic minorities of iran are located most in the border areas of iran.
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so it affects a broad relationship with a number of neighboring states, with pakistan, with turkey, with turkmenistan, with iraq because there's co-ethnic on each side of the border for which is meant for the states that iran's neighbors. many of the top leaders of iran actually ethnic azerbaijani. khamenei is from azerbaijan northwest iran. the head of the green movement is also ethnic, and despite the integration of azerbaijani into the leadership of iran, all these done for you minorities are not allowed to use the language in schools that do not allow to use it in court. and the azerbaijani among them a third of the publishing and women going into trust and courts in persian and not understand even what's happening in the courtside. the ethic lenders have a variety towards tehran, towards the state. most of the iranian azerbaijanis i was today seem so the citizens
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of iran but would like a place also for their culture. that is separate from a brain, not to break up with iran but to change iran. a number of other groups, the arabs, the kurds are really having an active full scale insurgency going on. we don't hear too much about in the press. we don't hear too much about from an unofficial but we insurgencies were iranian soldiers when they go into the populated areas, are seriously under threat. i welcome and thank you for being one of the only members of congress and u.s. officials that is trying to integrate iran and south caucasus policy. again within a think about it even of the national security council, we have the caucasus together covered with the balkans. two regions are completely different. the dynamics are completely different because the dominant power in the balkans. where in the south caucasus where the region that with huge influx with turkey, russia, all
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competing. this region is vitally important for the outcomes of russia, iran, iran and turkey. so thank you for calling attention to these two policies. as part of that integration i think u.s.-iran policy can benefit if the south caucasus were integrated into these policies. one as you point out is the sanctions regimes. these countries are crucial to the sanctions regime both on the negative and positive. the countries like azerbaijan to fully implement the sanctions, watchdogs for the united states by doing a very important job. but the countries that don't have been at the sanctions is the loophole is a danger to an i think especially we see this in the noncovered territories, their financial institutions, moving of gold, it's a real black hole for the sanctions. i hope the u.s. will pay attention to monitor into both these gaps. another point is the u.s. congress, we should work harder to resolve these ethnic conflict
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in the caucasus. they also make the countries more vulnerable to iranian influence, to iranian destabilization issue. and i think one thing that congress i can say is not been so helpful for most of its history, congress has it marked money to the region. that's a violation of u.s. law. it would be as if you are in marking money for jewish settlements, and the congress if and when you for an ally of the united states like israel, let alone to earmark money occupation of the territory that you as long recognized is occupied territory. i think also we should follow up in terms of monitoring the institutions like voice of america that it received u.s. financial support. if they can get more of a voice to ethnic minority issue in iran. i think we should be well aware as you pointed out that if to be any sort of tightening of the sanction, military action in the region, one of the first countries to be attacked by
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iran, it's a long border. it's very poorest. going back and forth. they are trying costly to give terrorist events and we must increase our security cooperation with azerbaijan make sure that they don't pay the price for being the neighbor of iran. thank you. >> mr. chairman, it's indeed with sorrow that i hear about your stepping down. i testified several times and was always a great pleasure i was always very, very impressed by your knowledge and knowledge of other members, and i was sorry to hear you are retiring. the topic today is important in the. islamic republic of iran has emerged the major anti-status
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quo after in the middle east, threatening american sunni arab allies along the so called shia crescent from lebanon via syria and iraq to the persian gulf. iran's hatred of israel stretched to wipe the jewish state off from that provider reported. what is less known is the threats iran presents with destabilizing influence in south caucasus. our country worked over the last 20 years in a bipartisan fashion, first bush, clinton, then second bush administrations to stabilize the south caucasus for the peoples of the region. security, economic development, rule of law and democracy. and all these american interests are threatened by every attempt to export terrorism, destabilize neighboring, bypass you in and
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e.u. sanctions. the energy development is also stalling because of iranian policies objecting to the national sector regime for the caspian, preventing gas from kazakhstan, to traverse the caspian sea and pipelines, and shipped further west to turkey and europe. but the main current concern is the iranian export of terrorism into south caucasus. the u.s. embassy in azerbaijan, which i visited in october and spoke to ambassador morningstar, in such iconic quote i quote locations, as mcdonald's were all targeted by a rain terrorist cells that were rounded by security.
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the kurds or jerusalem forces, the iranian elite paramilitary organization of the islamic revolutionary guard, or irgc, is exporting the islamic revolution by posturing militant shiite movement, creating deterrence into networks and destabilizing regimes unfriendly to iran. and azerbaijan is in their crosshairs. the relationship with the united states, western europe and israel are irritating the iranian leadership to the point that some of their statements are questioning the sovereignty of the country of azerbaijan, reminding the leaders that in the distant past azerbaijan used to be a province of the iranian empire, sorry, persian empire. iran's anti-israel agenda is brought to bear by targeting the embassy official, ambassador of israel, and even local jewish
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community leaders and a rabbi. these cells, too, were rounded by azerbaijan security. in the broader geopolitical sense, the iranian activity in south caucasus is dangerous because they are aiming to bust the sanctions regime by developing their presence in armenia and georgia, possibly in azerbaijan, by putting their front organizations, front companies to acquire dual use technology and technology with military application, to plant banking operation, very important for our efforts, such as a bank that is underused treasury sanctions, and the british treasury, is operating out of iran. the iranian drug trade is an especially pernicious activity that is targeting south
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caucasus. while iran is becoming increasingly a transit country -- iran is running its own front operations such as production, supervised by pharmacists and professional chemists, and trying to run this with the boats into azerbaijan, et cetera. i would like the rest of my presentation to be included in the record and just focus on our policy recommendations. the u.s. needs to expand antiterrorism and drug trafficking cooperation between the u.s. and the three south caucasus states, neutralizing iranian subversive activities, focused intelligence community efforts on electing and neutralizing i were aiming -- activities and financial technology transfer sectors in the region, cooperative with the western and other allies.
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uphold the interests of small south caucasus countries when attempting to construct an effective iran policies, which leads to elimination of tehran's nuclear weapons program, sustained energy projects and help european countries and diversifying their energy, by connecting them to energy resources of the caspian sea in central asia region, and specifically we should support and help turkey and azerbaijan, and europe, finalize in the baku project. ..
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>> for if we continue to neglect the caucuses, this neglect will quickly become maligned, and maligned neglect invariably generates not only instability, but also protected violence. by its aggressive action, iran is endangering the fragile equilibrium in the strategically-sensitive region which is important for the u.s. interests. america should remain vigilant to deter violence, extremism and terrorism practiced by the islamic republic against america's friends and allies in the caucuses. thank you so much. >> thank you, doctor. i think we'll now go to you, michael. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, honorable members -- >> oh, and before i do, dana rohrabacher from california has
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joined us, he's a valuable member of the foreign affairs committee. and the next ranking member from new york. thank you for coming. yeah, we appreciate it. he's going to be the ranking member of the full committee, so we're pleased to have both of you here today. and with that, we'll go ahead with your statement. and if we could keep your statements to five minutes, it would be great. >> it will be. mr. chairman, honorable members, thank you for the opportunity to testify. iranian officials sometimes quip they play chess while americans play checkers. increasingly, this appears to be the case in the caucuses and the surrounding region. while many policymakers describe the islamic republic as a regional power, the iranians themselves now describe themselves as a, quote-unquote, pan-regional power. iranians have a sense as strong
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as that of russian nationalists who pine to exert their influence over the states of the soviet union. azerbaijan and georgia are front and center in this conception. they combine both terror campaigns and soft power. beyond headline-grabbing bombings and assassination plots, the islamic republic looks to expand its reach. within the caucuses the islamic republic concentrates efforts at azerbaijan, one of only three countries behind iran which is majority shiite. because this country's success challenges the claim that the islamic republic's claim is inspired, tehran -- [inaudible] contrasts sharply with rapp's theocracy. the fact that azerbaijannys are more literate and enjoy greater
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purchasing power than iran, iranians embarrassing the iranian clergy. it is hard for the supreme leader to claim that he presides over a near perfect islamic system as the deputy of the me messiah on earth when secular governments outperform him. as i detail in my written testimony, iran is thought to undermine unity and sponsored anti-western political parties. after attempts to send radical missionaries into azerbaijan failed, tehran shifted to train azerbaijanny clerks in iran. this has paid long-term dividends to iran and bahrain. thunderstorms also utilize charities to expand their influence. the imam khamenei relief committee is the chief organization agency abroad. with as sents supplied by the supreme leader, similar to those conducted by ngos. but while the committee's
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activities might look at first sight benign, its track record is sinister. in 1997 its office provided cover for surveillance into the u.s. embassy. designated the committee's branch in lebanon to be a terrorist inti -- entity. it's cliekly that the committee offices in azerbaijan now also provide cover for revolutionary guard activits for american policy armenia is the weak link undermining both u.s. interests and national security. in 2008 u.s. diplomats concluded that armenia shipped iran weaponry which the islamic republic used to kill americans in iraq. long sought to keep banking cooperation outside the limelight, armenia's warm embrace of iran is apparent. sanctions appear to operate in -- [inaudible] in october 2011, the iranian
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press reported that a member of armenia's nuclear energy option suggested that -- actually armenian-american community is vibrant, it is unfortunate that organizations representing repre diaspora in the united states do not do more to encourage change in the armenian government's behavior. by ignoring the pro-iranian orientation, the armenian-american community squanders an opportunity to build a true strategic partnership. what worries me looking into the future is this: the strategic situation has never been more perilous. the recent georgian elections threaten to radically reorient georgia which under their president has been reliably pro-western. a reorientation might accompany its shift to moscow. georgia is not the only company in play. while there remain sectarian tensions between turkey and iran, it would be a mistake for
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mesh policymaker -- american policymakers to assume turkey will cooperate with the west. to dismiss turkish outreach to iran as simply economic opportunism misses the point. across administrations, u.s. strategy is too often reactive rather than proactive. the lack of a strategy to roll back iranian influence in the caucuses increasingly proves the iranian chess and checkers quip correct. thank you very much. >> thank you very much, doctor. mr. vatanka. >> thank you very much, chairman burton, members of the committee. thank you very much for having me here this afternoon. it's an honor to join you. i wanted to focus on iran's failures to project its influence in the south, to the south caucuses region, if i may. as been said, iran has deep roots in this part of the world. it is the giant neighbor to the south, after all. much of the south caucuses has
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at one time been under iranian influence or been part of the persian empire. therefore, cross-border, that is to say people-to-people ties, remain strong. there are some 20% in iran are ethnic azerbaijanny. one of the largest communities anywhere in the world is also to be found in iran estimated at some 80,000. but i would argue that while iranian civilization is closed to the peoples of the region, the world views of the islamic regime in tehran have no appeal. i think we have to deal with three key facts when assessing iran's inflewses in -- influences in the south caucuses. first, moscow's support in places like the u.n. security council, the iranians are very worried about upsetting russia's interests in the south caucuses.
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this is best reflected by iran's position in regards to armenia and georgia where russian interests are strongest. i have provided more detail in my testimony and provided some examples. second, i think we have a failure in tehran's so-called big brother approach which i think is heavily tainted with an ideological syndrome. so i would quickly say it's not just that iran doesn't want to be active in the south caucuses because it fears that the russians might be upset, but it's also because of a failure of its model as a political invitation that is extended over the last 20 years to these three countries, particularly azerbaijan. where russian interests are least sensitive n my view, iran has also failed to gain traction. this is thanks to -- excuse me. where iran has basically insisted on sharing its anti-american and aunt-western portions, and this is a call which the authorities in
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azerbaijan have repeatedly rejected, i think they would have been far more open to iran overtures if they did not insist on this anti-westernism as a platform. but that still seems to be the case if you listen to the latest coming from tehran. one of the best examples of how iranian intervention in azerbaijan have failed to produce results for tehran is this iranian insistence that azerbaijan walk away from its relations with the state of israel. not only does iran want to impose its ideological will on a smaller and pro-western neighbor in azerbaijan, but it also fails to recognize the needs of baku. in my conversations, i was constantly reminded of the fact that the state of israel provides material support as the country develops and looks to enhance its international position. what can an internationally-isolated iran
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offer azerbaijan? the answer to that is very little, at least while iran pursues the policies it's pursuing at the moment. let me also say this. this is widely recognized to be a problem, but those nonideological actors in iran, they see the problem. the trouble is, they're not in the drive's seat, so they're just banging their heads against the wall, and the narrow interests are calling the shots to the detriment of the country of iran. let me just very briefly say a few words about the iranian influence that does exist referring to armenia and georgia. it's very important to recognize that overwhelmingly we're talking about trade with iran. these countries are not looking to -- it's very important to emphasize this -- these countries are not looking to hear the message of anti-westernism. today look to iran, particularly armenia, out of simple necessity
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and geographic reality they have to deal with. but whenever they can, they have preferred western partners. particularly look at armenia's continued pursuit of better ties with turkey. in conclusion, let me very briefly say that the south caucuses when you measure the iranian influence, there simply does not match the historical ties that country has with the region, and this can be, as i said, overwhelmingly blamed on iran's insistence on this anti-western platform that it continuously seeks. final point i'll make, and i'm running out of time, i say the only real negative driver that i can see changing the status quo is if the iranian standoff with the u.s. and international community continues, there is a likelihood that radical elements in tehran -- and we've already heard this -- will look at the region, particularly azerbaijan, as a platform and a battleground to confront the united states and its allies. chairman burton, members of the
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committee, thank you very much for your time. >> first of all, before i take my time, i want to congratulate mr. engel on being the ranking democrat. he's going to be a powerhouse here on the committee for the next couple of -- well, maybe six years. so congratulations to you. you worked hard for it, and you deserve it. one of my concerns and the reason i wanted to hold this hearing is because we've been focusing on iran's nuclear program. we've been talking about the threat that that presents to the entire region and how israel would have to respond to that in the event that they continue with that program. but one of the things that is not being discussed is what this hearing is about today, and that is the subversive movement by iran to undermine governments in the entire region. our hearing today is on the caucuses and that whole region, but i want to go into a broader
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area. bahrain is one of the areas that i'm very familiar with because i was in the persian gulf region recently. it's not under this committee's purview, but it fits into the overall problem that we see. so i'd like to start with you, dr. rubin, and ask you what you think of iran's underground movement to try to undermine those governments to main finish to gain more and more influence, and how extensive is it? i'd like you to include azerbaijan, that whole region, georgia, armenia. and i'd also like for you to interjekyll into your comments -- and i'll let your other colleagues speak as well -- what's going on in bahrain and the persianingful. persian gulf. >> sir, i spent 1 years in a quake -- 14 years in a quaker school, and we always learned that mull -- multiculturalism
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was about appreciating our differences. it isn't about walking into a sushi restaurant and ordering a mow here toe. it's ultimately about different people's thinking in different ways. when it comes to iran, we need to recognize that in both the constitution and the statute of the islamic republic's revolutionary guard corp. is the the imperative to export revolution. the former president said, well, when we talk about exportive revolution, we meant to build ourself up into a soft power power which everyone around could emulate, and it was actually the revolutionary guard which shot him down and said no. exportive revolution is fundamentally about insurgency. i've detailed this in my written testimony. now, when it comes to the iranian strategy, i already talked about the soft power strategy of trying to infiltrate people in through charities. we also have the infiltration this in through the media as well.
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within bahrain there's a special problem, and i highlighted this, the parallels in azerbaijan. in the pa rain's -- baa rain's -- bahrain's case, most clergy instead of going to car bull la to study ended up going to iran. i would hazard to guess that there's not a single village mullah under the age of 55 in bahrain who hasn't studied in iran, and that's going to be a problem which will take general rations b -- generations to work out of the system. now, many of the grievances in bahrain are real, but that doesn't mean that the iranians aren't trying to take advantage of them. as you know, earlier this year i went to bahrain, and when i was meeting with opposition, i found many of the younger opposition to be quite sincere. some of the older opposition from the days of the 1918 fighting -- 1981 fighting, what they were saying to me in english versus what we googled them saying to the persian press
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in persia was radically different as to the status of the u.s. fleet headquarters and so forth. so we do have a constant problem in which many of the people working on -- >> what did they say? you said you spoke to them in persian. >> okay. when they spoke in english, they would talk about how we genuinely want reforms and that so long as the reforms occur, the united states, of course, would be welcome to keep the fifth fleet headquarters in bahrain. not when i spoke to them in persian, but when we googled their names in persian to call up what they had said to the iranian press, they talked about how the colonial vestige of the american satan must be expelled forthwith. so a slight difference in tone between what they were saying in english and what they were saying in persian. that's constantly a problem, of course, in the middle east as you know where interlocutors will be told one thing, and they will be told another thing subsequently. when it comes to television,
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most baa rainny -- bahrainis will listen to iranian television and radio almost exclusively. most bahraini shiites, i should say. now, when it comes to the media, often times what the iranians will do is distribute cell phones, distribute video cameras and urge students to be stringers. if you can film anything of interest, send it back, and we'll give you a salary. this encourages people to film greater unrest. instead of having one voice of an american correspondent, imagine having 500 voices of iran correspondents in the area, and this is the problem we have. >> mr. rubin, we'll proceed with that. i want to give you all a chance to respond. but mr. rohrabacher has to catch a plane. he's got to go back to california, and east going to be very active in this region in the next couple of years, so, mr. rohrabacher, we'll recognize you so you can catch your plane. >> thank you very much. and i'd like to especially thank ms. schmidt and congressman
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burton for the hard work that they've put in over the last two years and, actually, many more years than that. and just thank you both for laying the stage for whatever's going to be coming next. we'll be able to pick up something and carry the flag, and i hope whoever that is -- could be me, who knows-- will do half as good a job as you guys have, so thank you very much. i would like to thank the panel and thank the chairman for this particular hearing. i think the americans' understanding of what's going on in iran and around iran is so clicheed that it really is a threat to making the policies that we need to make that will benefit the united states as well as benefit the cause of world peace.
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most people only know that the mullahs in iran are oppressive to their own people and have said they're going to wipe out israel, and that's it. and today -- and most people think all iranians are persians. today's testimony is going to te of great assistance for laying the foundation for, perhaps, new policies that will be approached in the coming year. let me just note and, mr. chairman, for the record, i have a copy of hcon resolution 137 which is a resolution that i submitted earlier this year which basically states that the people, the asara people who we've heard in testimony, number up to 20 million people in the iran, those people have a right of self-determination to determine what their status will be in the future, whether it's a status as part of azerbaijan or whether it's a part of iran or
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whether it's a sovereign country of their own. and that resolution, while it didn't go many places here on capitol hill, it certainly was an area of discussion in that part of the world. and let me just note i believe in the right of self-determination not only for the asara people, but for all the peoples of that ream and of the -- of that region and of the world. it's part of the things we as americans are supposed to believe in because our declaration of independence was a declaration of the rights of people to determine self-determination, that god has given every person, not just americans. i also am very grateful to the panel today for pointing out the complications of iranian policy to the various not just israel, but the other conflicts in the region as well, especially dealing with armenia and
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azerbaijan. i think that we owe a great deal of debt to the government of azerbaijan for being willing to step up to this threat from the mullah regime and not cower before it. and that type of courage, i hope, would be, would actually inspire those of us in the united states who are engaged in policy making to understand that the mullah regime need to be treated for what it is. mullah regime murders it own people and threatens the peace and stability of an entire portion of the world. and we should be looking for allies in that part of the world and not just israel, but ore countries, other countries in that region to try to isolate and, yes, empower the people of
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iran to win their freedom against this gangster regime whether it's promoting self-determination or the right of self-determination or just pure democracy. we should -- the iranian mullahs should not be on the offensive, they should be on the dependencive, because they do not represent anything but an evil force in their own country and in that region. so, mr. chairman, i had my say. maybe there's someone who has 25 seconds to comment on that on the panel. >> i think we can learn really how there's such a gap between iran's rhetoric of islamic solidarity, helping oppressed peoples and its activities in actuality. iran should be the poster child
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of helping muslims around the world, but in this close region, it helps armenia against azerbaijan, it helps russia against chech yangs, and even when it tries to explain its hostilities towards azerbaijan, it says, well, it's about us, to tell the truth, they only came to truation about four to five years ago they established close cooperation. iran has been trying to undermine azerbaijan's instability since the beginning of independence. it goes back to this ethnic issue just as you brought attention of congress to the multiethnicity of iran, iranian leaders the first day in tehran times when the soviet union broke up, the first article was not about what a great opportunity to expand islamic fundamentalism and islamic influence, it was we must be careful of the ethnic hand won't comb over the board -- come over the border the other way. >> well, we have people in baluchistan, we have people who
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are asaras, many different groups of people who deserve their freedom who are under the thumb of the mullah dictatorship. we should be on the side of democracy and freedom in iran, and that would solve a lot of our other problems. thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. rohrabacher. mr. engel? >> well, thank you very much, mr. chairman. i won't take the whole time, but i want to start by, first of all, telling you how much i have appreciated our friendship through the years and the time we both served on the western hemisphere subcommittee, first you as chair and me as ranking member, then me as chair and you as ranking member. we've always been friends, and you've always been a gentleman and a very good student of foreign policy, and it's just been a pleasure working with you. personally, i'm going to miss you. so i hope you'll come back and visit. i hope your district and the country understands how, what a patriot you are and how much you
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care even when we've disagreed on things. i never have had doubt for one moment that you didn't say anything that you didn't believe. you're a patriot, you're a truemen, and you really -- true american, and you really love this country. and we love you, even on this side of the aisle, we're going to miss you. i want to say something to my good friend, dear friend, jean schmidt, i'm going to miss you too. my co-chair of the albanian caucus. we've traveled together as mr. burton and i have, and we've gotten to know our families on a personal level, and i'm going to miss you very, very much. and you, too, are a great patriot and amazing woman. amazing woman. i don't know, i tell a little tale out of school, but when we're traveling abroad, we always have these big, strong marine guys or whatever following us and taking care of us and whatever.
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congresswoman schmidt is an avid runner. she competes in all kinds of classical marathons, thank you, and i want to tell you, those marine guys that are less than half her age, they couldn't hold a candle to her. and she gets up at 4:30 in the morning and is ready to do running. so we're going to miss you, jean, and, you know, please, keep in touch. honored to call both of you my friend, so thank you. i wanted just to ask anyone who'd care to answer just one question. it involved relationship with azerbaijan and israel. there had been reports, i guess it must have been six or six months ago to a year, i guess, where there was talk that azerbaijan had agreed to let israel use its bases in case israel felt it had to make a strike on iran to destroy iran's nuclear capability. um, there seemed to be --
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whether it was our state department or someone somewhere went public on it, and it seemed to me that it undermined any kind of deal that azerbaijan and israel have had. i'm wondering if any of you can shed some light on that for me and, you know, just tell me your thoughts. i have to tell you, my thoughts were i was disappointed when i thought on the u.s. side that we were sort of bringing that to light. i was, i thought that was something that was better left unsaid. yes, ms. shaffer. dr. shaffer. >> i think this shows the power, also the negative power, of the internet. here a guy wrote an article who by his own biography has served as an ambassador to yasser arafat, an article based on six unnamed sources -- i can understand an article that has a couple unnamed sources -- six
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unnamed scholars, two independent scholars, either unemployed or on the payroll of someone they don't want to mention, and this creates noise all over the world as if it's the reality and everyone else has to respond to it. i think there's been a biggies information campaign going on in a number of media sources that are trying to break apart israel and azerbaijan and trying to make azerbaijan pay in the muslim world for its close friendship to israel. i think these articles that are always talking about military cooperation here, military cooperation there, if you show a map, there's a lot of countries that israel's going to have a military attack on iran, there's a lot of countries it has to pass over before azerbaijan. that would mean its planes were flying over turkey, georgia, and a number of other countries before it reached azerbaijan. i think we have to be very careful with many of these -- the impact of these articles which we really don't know, um, who's behind them and why, i
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mean, a student of mine wrote a paper with six unnamed sources, i wouldn't give them a very good grade. >> yes. dr. cohen. >> um, i'm not sure if it's in the purview of this committee or the full committee, but as that publication hurt u.s. policy and u.s. relations with both israel and azerbaijan, i'm wondering if an investigation can be made as to whether u.s. sources were involved in leaking this information. or alternatively, maybe it was commissioned by the iranian regime. and because what dr. shaffer mentioned about the connections of the author to yasser arafat -- and i'm personally aware of those connections, he is not hiding them -- it could be-done on behalf of the islamic republic here in washington which also raises very serious questions as to the influence of that. mr. chairman, if i may to go
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back to the bahrain issue, um, if you look at the map, bahrain is there across iran on the shores of the persian gulf. as dr. rubin said, bahrain has 70% shia majority. iran, some iranian officials claim that bahrain is a 14th province of iran. this is kind of rhetoric that we heard by saddam hussein which led to the war in kuwait. so this is a highly explosive territorial claim, and if through its military power or through subversion, supporting the shia radicals in bahrain iran overthrows the current regime and establishes hold on bahrain, then it closes the persian gulf from both sides which tremendous implications for energy traffic.
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40% of all oil in the world is shipped through the persian gulf. and it is, it establishes an iranian -- [inaudible] on the southern or eastern shore of the persian gulf aimed right at saudi arabia. so geopolitically, purely looking at the map and understanding that such a step would unfortunately prevent the fifth fleet to continue being there, this is a development that iranians are pursuing and that is extremely dangerous to our national security interests, to the interests of the kingdom of saudi arabia and to our allies in the persian gulf. >> thank you very much. mr. meese? >> let me also join the chorus to say to jean schmidt that we will miss you. i was thinking before eliot, you know, when he was talking about
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our travel together and the fact that you outrun together, but also the fact that we've gotten to know each other on these trips and to talk about family and friends and life and what it really means. and your dedication as a true patriot to this great country of ours. so we are going to miss you and the service that you've rendered here in the united states congress, and i want to wish you well in your future endeavors. let me now go to the witnesses. as i indicated in my opening statement, it seems to me influence is stronger when you can divide and conquer. it seems to me if you can divide folks up into regions, etc., then you can have more influence. and that is what my concern is to a large degree in the south caucuses. and that's why i'll just open up with this question. i was -- i've been watching,
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because i think it's extremely important if we could get turkey and armenia to have better relationships, to move that tighter together because we have them divided, etc., that helps weaken the relationship. so my question is, first question is do you think that there's any prospect maybe -- because i always have the statement that there's two of the oldest forms of relationships between countries. one is trade or economic engagement, and the other is war. i like trade and economic engagement much better than war to try to have relationships. so i was wondering whether or not did you see that there's any prospect for increased economic engagement in, between armenia and turkey, or would the relaxation of the closed border
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between turkey and armenia or even the normalization of diplomatic relations in the region, will that make a difference? do you see that being possible anytime soon? i'm one that believes the glass is half full all the time, but i'd like to get your viewpoints. go ahead. >> i'll be very brief. if i may, as far as i can see, the turks have already said they're interest inside that kind of development vis-a-vis armenia. and armenians, as i stated earlier, definitely trying to expand in terms of the partners they have in the region. but i'm not sure about the timing right now. certainly, i think the turks have their hands full with everything that's going on in the region, specifically syria. so i'm not sure if they're going to do something as radical as that, because that's going to be perceived as a radical step, and turkey does not want to walk away with its very close ties with azerbaijan. i think secondarily, you want to
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make sure they understand the motives that this is not going to be done at their sort of cost. if i may just very quickly two points, i also want to make in terms of israel and bahrain. first, when i was in azerbaijan, there are two messages that pretty much stood out for me very clearly. one was the israel/azerbaijan relationship is not just about iran. it's a key factor, but it's more about developing azerbaijan's diplomatic, economic and political clout on the international stage. israel's been forthcoming, so that, i think, is an important factor to remember. but number two, equally important, azerbaijan as far as i could see is not interested in becoming a battle ground and certainly doesn't want to be involved in war with iran. it will play its role, as far as i could see, as international partner in terms of maintaining sanctions, but it's not going to stick its head out because it certainly doesn't feel comfortable in that regard. on bahrain, the thing to
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remember -- again, i was in bahrain this year, and one of the issues, again, that stood out, clearly there's some genuine grievances on the ground, and i heard officials refer to that. there are things that needs to be done on the ground. when the iranian danger comes in there's a vacuum. whenever iran has really succeeded on a regional level has been where there's a vacuum. we saw that in lebanon in the '80s. that's what the iranians are very good at, to come in and fill vacuums. an important thing for the united states is the opposition in bahrain don't feel the need that there's only iran to turn to. united states, i think, can play an important role in that regard. >> yes, mr. meeks, i think you're correct that the conflicts create vulnerability to the countries for iranian influence, for russian influence. and for precisely this reason, the normalization between turkey and armenia has to take place in a greater regional context. meaning if you just look at
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turkey/armenia and you say, okay, fine, they trade, yes, there can be many benefits. but we have to use this border issue as a means to further resolve the conflict. if the one border happens, still the conflict between armenia and azerbaijan continues, we won't have the kind of stability we want to achieve. and, in fact, today armenia occupies 20% of azerbaijan's territory. the only thing armenia wants that it doesn't have is, actually, the trade with turkey. therefore, we have to use that lever for some movement in the peace prospect. you know, maybe not the whole resolution for armenia to leave a few of the occupied districts to show some sort of sign of the process moving forward. and so to put peace, again, peace on two sides of armenia's borders. because if not, all we're doing is putting war closer and closer in the region. >> representative meeks, i certainly, i certainly, um, agree with the desire that there would be some sort of
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rapprochement, but in the larger context i really don't think it would be enough given the recent changes in turkey. turkish and iranian leaders coordinate closely on international earths to restrict -- efforts to restrict free speech that criticizes islam. turkey's intelligence chief makes little secret of his preference for tehran over washington which raises questions about intelligence sharing, especially when it comes to some of the coding and technology for the f-35 joint strike fighter. in 2010 what concerns me most is that, um, turkish and chinese air forces conducted joint war games over turkey without first alerting either nato or the pentagon. and, of course, the chinese fighter jets couldn't have gotten to turkey if they hadn't stopped first and refueled in iran. what i see now beyond just the issue of the turkish/armenian dispute is that iran feels that it's about to deliver us a coup
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de grace. because they have armenia in their camp. increasingly, they seem to have flipped turkey in many ways. they are very optimistic about what the future will bode with regard to georgia which leaves only azerbaijan behind which leads me to think that even if you cough some rapprochement -- you do have some rapprochement between turkey and armenia, that we're going to have a much harder time in the region over the months and perhaps year to come. >> just to follow up on this, armenia enjoys a historic and strategic relationship with russia, it has very strong ties with iran. so two out of three major powers in the caucuses are in the armenians' corner. on the other hand, turkey historically is supporting azerbaijan and made it clear to armenia after the memoranda was signed back in 2010, i
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believe -- '10 or '9? in 2009, that turkey will link the opening of the border to progress on the car baa issue. and we understand it because countries support their allies, and in the case of turkey azerbaijan is an ally. but i also want to support what my colleague, mr. rubin, said about turkish/iranian relations. those relations are developing in doubling of trade by 2015 between turkey and iran while iran is under international sanctions is proclaimed again and again as a strategic goal of the turkish republic which raises a question how our ally, turkey, is playing a policy or conducting a policy. that appears to be contradicting
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our sanctions against iran. >> i know i'm out of time, but just following up on that, though, it seems to me -- and this is what i also stated in the opening statement -- that when you look at some of our allies whether it's turkey in particular and others, they look at their national interests, and they are dependent upon either russia or iran for their oil. or their, you know, their resources. so they go back and forth because they need them. and one or the other could be bad for us, etc., if they're completely dependent upon it. so people are looking at what they have in their particular regions. what i would think then in order to eliminate some of that, and i'd throw that question out as my last question for now, and then id yield to the chair, to jean, is my thought is what could we do to help transit from the caspian so that we can get
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oil into these regions so they're not dependent upon russia or iran. and what do you see the united states doing or how can we be more helpful to make sure that transit exists so that they can get the resources they need with regards to what they need for their vital necessities? >> sir, this is a very important question. and on oil the united states took a principled and active position both under clinton and george w. bush to promote the baku pipeline. that pipeline is of the capacity of about one million barrels a day. but because of the iranian obstructionist position on delineating and demarcating the caspian, additional oil pipelines cannot be built from kazahkstan, for example. and they're going to have to ship that oil into the baku by
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tanker. on gas the same iranian position prevents gas from going to turkmenistan into azerbaijan and into you are the or key. but today the pipeline between azerbaijan, georgia and turkey is going to be a pipeline that will supply additional gas and also natural gas from kurdistan, from the northern iraq can't be pumped into turkey and then further to the european markets. additionally, turkey has excellent relations with sunni-arab countries, many of which are exporters both of oil and liquid natural gas like qatar. so turkey has its sources of both oil and gas. and if turkey wasn't so disruptive in its relationship with israel, there could be a place of discussing the israeli
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and sip ri yacht offshore gas fields supplying gas to turkey in the future. unfortunately, the turkish leadership today is at the head of the crowd that is bashing israel and supporting the terrorist organization, hamas, including in the last attacks on israel with rockets. and right now i think turkey shot itself t in the foot by excluding itself from the east mediterranean gas development of israel and cypress. thank you. >> before we go to my good friend jean, let me just say that you have been an outstanding panel, and i hope that we can get the information you're giving us today out to everybody. because i don't think the things you're telling us today are widely known. and so we really appreciate you being here. jean? >> thank you. and i want to continue on congressman meeks' discussion about oil. 40 years ago, and i can't believe i can say 40 years ago
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when i was studying middle east politics, i had a professor that said the reason why the middle east is important is a three-letter word, and that's called oil. and it still is. and as we look at the emerging markets of azerbaijan, we see oil-rich, natural gas-rich countries that really want to not just continue the development of these energy resources, but also distribute it into areas that, quite frankly, are good for international security which i'm talking about as western europe which right now has to get their energy sources from places that aren't so popular. but in reading your testimony, dr. cohen, i'm getting a deeper understanding as to why iran doesn't want this. iran doesn't want it for a multitude of reasons. one, it doesn't want these countries to continue to develop and become more wen and more attractive -- more western and more attractive for international business to come to their borders. but also because it's not in
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iran's best interests to have anybody else pumping these supplies. and so it is in rapp's best interests -- iran's best interests, it seems, to be subversive in all these countries in any single way that they can, including trying to make turkey not be as friendly to the united states as i believe turkey wants to continue to be, to be disruptive by not allowing the caspian sea to be open enough to allow these pipelines to go through. um, and so really what we have to do not just as the united states, but as an international body, in my view, is apply international pressure to allow these new countries to develop. and the other thing that i'm thinking of when i'm looking at this, and maybe i'm wrong on this and, please, tell me, is it's not in russia's best interests either. you know, russia lost some of its best parts of itself 20 years ago. when you look at kaszikstan and azerbaijan and the fact that
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they're free and they can do what they want to do. it's not in russia's best interests for these places to make money and become merging markets that can be world players. and so of course russia, in my view, is looking at iran to smother them and hurt them. am i right, or am i wrong in this? and what as an international body should the international body be doing in this concretely to allow that pipeline to go through? because i truly believe it's in the best interests of the world for it to start pumping energy quickly. >> yes, ma'am. clearly, the increase of supply of oil and gas and now gas is becoming a globally-shipped commodity in the form of lng, liquid natural gas. it is very much in the interests of every developed economy, every developing economy that is not hydrocarbon rich. and you're absolutely right, there is a confluence of
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interests between russia and iran. these two countries form a north/south axis whereas kazahkstan, turkmenistan and countries all the way east to china and western europe or europe comprise an east/west axis, the corridor through which oil, gas but also industrial goods, ideas and information can flow. um, the russian situation is not dissimilar. the russian situation in europe with gas is similar to iranian or saudi situation with oil. it's all about market share. >> right. >> so if you have azerbaijanny gas, turkmen gas competing with european gas or russian gas, for that matter lng from algeria, it may drive the market share down,
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it may drive the prices down, and europe is really at a, at a crossroads because they need to decide whether to go with natural gas or continue with coal and continue with nuclear. so gas plays a strategic energy role in europe right now. and you asked about what can we do. >> that's the most important crux of all of -- >> trillion dollar question. we did not coordinate enough with western europe, and western europe by itself especially now with the economic crisis is not really focused enough on insuring that east/west plans will go through. i think they lost to the russians on fobuko, the big pipeline that was supposed to come from the caspian through turkey into western europe. but a good, smaller alternative was a spur, a side pipeline most
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probably what is called west nabuko which is a pipeline to austria. we could have done more. especially when the regime, the leader changed in turkmenistan, i had conversations with senior state department officials saying let's invite the new leader, the few president to -- the new president to washington. and there was a huge pushback because they wanted for the foreign minister to visit, then they wanted the prime minister to visit, then they were concerned -- justifiably so -- about the human rights in turkmenistan. in the meantime, mr. putin was there in two weeks signing deals. the chinese now are the principal buyer for turkmen gas. so i do not want to present it as only a zero sum game, but this is a game of immense and intense competition between the
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buyers of these natural resources. >> yes. russia and iran have been allies in trying to make sure that less and less oil from the caspian region reaches international markets. unsuccessful thanks to really strong u.s. policy efforts in the early days after the soviet breakup. but where actually russia and iran are rivals is a question of natural gas, and i talk about this in depth in my testimony. um, the only country that really has the volume that could be a true rival to russian dominance and a number of markets in europe is iran. and now because of the conflict between iran and the west, iran is in a box. it really helps us to understand russia's kind of policy on iran. sometimes it's with us, sometimes it's against us on the sanctions because, basically, what iran's interest is that iran -- russia's interests on iran is that there's no war, no peace. no resolution of the conflict, no ending of the iranian nuclear threat, on the other hand, no full-scale war because it's in
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russia's interests that the iranian volumes are locked up in iran and don't reach outside marketses and can compete with russia. and we saw, for instance, iran opened a pipeline to armenia to supply gas. gas firm bought up this pipeline, even though what did it matter, armenia's not a large market, just to make sure iranian gas doesn't end up in european markets. >> but let me add about iran, i've been watching iranian oil and gas industry for a long time. with this regime, because this is a highly ideological regime that does not allow private property of natural resources, doesn't allow western investment, um, that creates such an oppressive atmosphere inside the country that a lot of iranian engineers, scientists, doctors leave the country. this regime is not really capable to be a good saw ward of iranian natural resources in a way like saddam hussein was not a good steward of the iraq can
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key natural resources. -- iraqi natural resources. and what we're facing in terms of the economic and developmental interests of the west, of the newly-industrialized countries of asia and from the point of view of the iranian people themselves is a recognition that is often lacking that this particular ideological islamist dictatorship, shia militant dictatorship, is working against best interests of their own people as well as against the economic interests of potential buyers of iranian natural resources. they don't negotiate well, they don't have the legal base to allow western investment and, yes, they are under sanctions and will be, god willing, until such time as they reverse their nuclear military program. >> thank you. >> thank you, jean. ms. mitt. let me -- ms. schmidt. let me just end up by saying i
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thank my colleague, my buddy here for about 20 years for being such a good friend, and i want to thank you once again for being such a great panel. the one thing i hope, and i know we have c-span here, and i hope this is transmit today our state department. it sounds to me like where azerbaijan is concerned, where the persian gulf is concerned and bahrain as well as the other persian gulf countries as well as the entire region, turkey and everything else, it's extremely important that our state department don't drop the ball. they need to be extremely involved right now. and i hope the administration realizes. one of the things that i'm concerned about, and my colleague and i have some differing opinions on some of these things, but one of the things i'm concerned about right now is we're so concerned about the financial cliff that we're losing sight of something that may be of greater import in the next five or ten years. and that is if everything goes awry in the middle east, we could be shutting off some of our lights here because of a war
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that could get out of hand. so our state department, people like you need to be listened to, we need to be involved, and i want no thank you once again for being here. and i want to thank our friends from azerbaijan and bahrain and others who are here today for attending. and with that, we stand adjourned. >> you're watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs. weekdays featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch key public policy events, and every weekend the latest nonfiction authors on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedule at our web site, and you can join in the conversation on social media sites. >> defense secretary leon panetta went to walter reed national medical military center tuesday to celebrate the hospital's first anniversary and pay transcribe wiewt to -- tribute to medical
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professionals. the hospital is the result of a merger between walter reed army medical center and the bethesda naval medical hospital. this is almost 40 minutes. >> just over a year ago that you hosted the dedication ceremony for what was then the new medical center. so i need to tell you that your words touched many of us that day, because you pointed ott that -- out it's the people that make the difference in the start up of a new medical center. many of those people are here again today, and they're really looking forward to your words. and, sir, i want to -- i would like, be happy to report to you a year later we stand before you as one team. so we're very proud of that, sir. and as you know, it's the tradition for a new commander to mint a coin when we stand up a new command. when we stood up the command that day, we hadn't printed a coin yet, but i'd like to be able to present one to you, sir. and there you are. >> that's great. >> they probably want a picture of that.
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thank you, sir. >> thank you very much. >> thanks for being here. [applause] >> well, thank you very much, admiral. i appreciate that very much, and i really appreciate the opportunity to be able to be here at this one-year anniversary. of bringing bethesda/walter reed together. this was ap amazing effort -- an amazing effort, not easy to do, but i commend all of you for your willingnesses to work together as a team and to make this a success. want to thank you for your leadership, because what you
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have here is a world class center for healing, for compassion and for empowerment. i am, i am particularly honored today because, you know, in the holiday season first and foremost i would like to wish all of you and your families and the entire walter reed community a safe and happy and healthy holiday season. this is a season of renewal, it's a season of joy, of peace and of looking, looking to the future and being thankful for the past. and all of that, all of that is encompassed in these great medical centers, because that's what it's all about, is giving people that second chance at life.
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that's what you do. this is a time of year to reflect on all of the blessings that have been bestowed on all of us as citizens of this great country. and in particular the blessings that we have to be members of the department of defense family. someone, someone asked me the other day, kind of reflecting on the job of secretary of defense, what's the toughest part of this job, and what's the most memorable part of this job? and for me it comes down to the men and women who serve this country in the uniform.
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the toughest part of this job is to have to take the time to write notes to the families of those that have lost loved ones in war. and it's tough because as the father of three sons, recognizing the pain that that family must feel for the loss of a loved one is something that leaves a deep impact on me. and the ability to kind of take the time to write a few words of comfort and there, as all of you know, there are no words that you can find that can do justice to pain that's involved here,
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but for each one i try to write a note that not only expresses, obviously, my sorrow, but also says that their loved one loved, loved them, loved their family, loved this country and gave their life for all today loved. for all they loved. and that makes them an american hero forever. those are the toughest moments in this job. the post memorable moments -- the most memorable moments are to come here and visit the wounded warriors, because the opportunity to be able to look into their eyes, individuals
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that have suffered the most horrendous injuries you can imagine -- as all of you know -- but then to walk into these rooms and to look into their eyes and see a spirit of wanting to fight on and wanting to get back into the battle and wanting to be whole again and knowing that if they fight hard enough, they'll make that work. i mean, to see that spirit, to see that undying spirit of renewal is, for me, the most memorable thing, because it represents in my book the spirit of this country. each time i visit these heroes
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here i come away very moved and very inspired by their dedication, but their patriotism and, as i said, by that sheer strength of spirit. that they have. we as a nation owe them an incredible debt of gratitude for their service and for their sacrifice. men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line for this country, who are willing to fight and die for the united states of america. that represents the great strength of our country. i often say we've got, you know, we have the very best in
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weapons. we've got great ships, we've got great planes, we're developing future aircraft that are going to be incredible, future fighter planes that are going to be incredible. we've got great technology that's available. but one in of that, none of that is worth a damn without the men and women in uniform who are willing to put their lives on the line to help protect this country. that is the real strength. that is the heart and soul of what makes us the strongest country in the world. we owe them as a result of that the finest medical care that this nation can provide. and that's why i'm so grateful that we have the greatest
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medical health care system in the world right here. and the strength of our system lies in you and people like you, the thousands of dedicated professionals who are committed to caring for our sick and for our injured that lies with each of you. this, as i've said before, is a place where miracles happen, and you are the peer cl workers. -- miracle workers. today i want to thank you along with the entire military medical community for the exceptional care, the exceptional support that you provide for our service members, for these men and women in uniform, for their families
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and for our military retirees. you give them, you give them a second chance at life. this community is particularly close to my heart. my wife was trained as a nurse, and one of our three sons is a cardiologist. those of you that haven't had a wife as a nurse, you don't know what the hell it's all about. [laughter] because there isn't a damn thing i can do without her being right there and watching everything you do and watching everything that our sons did, you know? it was, it was incredible.
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their experience -- and i learned this from sylvia, and i learned it, and i see it now in our son who's a cardiologist -- it is very important, it's very important to understand that no matter how many people you have to deal with, you don't treat people by the numbers. every one of them has to be special. and it's got to show in your eyes. the best caretakers are the ones who have the compassion to work with people and the treat them with dignity and care and understanding. that's not always easy, because you're dealing with a lot of people, and it can be really tough. but the reality is that that
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sense of compassion, of making every patient feel special is what it's all about. i know how tough this job is. i know how difficult it can be and how hard it is for even of you -- for each of you and the amount of work it takes and the amount of sacrifice that it takes to do your job. so i thank you from the bottom of my heart for the commitment that all of you make to this challenging work. but i can't tell you how important it is to not only healing those that have been wounded, but healing our country as when we fight in wars. it makes a hell of a difference many terms of our ability to -- in terms of our ability to sense that for as tough as these battles are, as tough as these
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wounds are, that somehow we are strong enough to be able to go on. and that's what you do. this country and our armed forces are emerging from from over a decade of war. this is the longest sustained period of war in the history of the united states. there's been a nonstop flow of casualties from distant battlefields. and our military ped call community -- medical community has, i believe, risen to the challenge time and time and time again. you've provided thorough and effective care for over 50,000 wounded warriors, 50,000 wounded warriors. and you've helped insure that millions of our men and women in uniform are healthy and able to perform their vital missions.
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thanks to the advances in the medical technology and the innovations in medical training, it's been an absolutely incredible amount of innovations and development over these last few years, 98%, 98% of the wounded who reach our combat support hospitals survive their injuries. the highest rate of survival this country has ever achieved. you made this happen by standing side by side as one team, as one joint facility; army, navy, air force. you have become one of the best medical teams in the world. and by raising expectations, by making clear that there's always
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hope that good things can happen, by advancing training, by increasing responsibility, our corpsmen, our medics are now capable of delivering life-saving medical care right there on the battlefield. this is the new standard of medical care, and i'm very proud to say that it is the most advanced in the world. a real revolution has taken place in battlefield medicine. it has truly been a revolution. and in our ability to care for the most serious combat injuries. we have also seen that a higher survival rate can result in a new set of complex injuries when our soldiers return home.
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and you're responding to that challenge as well. here at the center of healing, this center of miracles, you have treated diseases that we've never seen before on our soil. you've performed life-saving surgeries that are the first of their kind. and you've developed the most advanced prosthetics in the world. it's thanks to your extraordinary talent and dedication that we are able to provide the level of care that we owe to our wounded warriors, and i see it when i go into those rooms and talk with them that they know, they've seen the fact that others get their life back as a result of what's been developed here. and that, too, renews their
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spirit that, ultimately, they're going to make it, and they're going to be okay. in the decade to come, we're going to be challenged in new ways, and we've got to be ready to meet those challenges as well. thousands of service members are going to be coming home soon, over the next several years. end of the war in iraq, beginning to draw down in the war in afghanistan. we have got to be ready for their arrival. by supporting their physical health, their emotional well being and their successful transition back into society. some of our returning service members will bear the visible and the invisible wounds of war. since 2001 nearly 250,000 men
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and women of the armed services have suffered traumatic brain injury. and many more remain undiagnosed. to care for them, this department instituted new guidance in september. we've built concussion restoration centers in theater, we've developed traumatic brain injury centers at many of our military bases around the world, and thanks to the efforts of our military medical professionals, we now have specific guidelines and treatments for what is one of the most elusive injuries that we've ever seen. ..
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>> the national intrepid center, told by the generous donation of the fisher family, is a world model, a world model for recuperating the human being, and not just treating the disease. let me also note, if i might, that yesterday you dedicated another world-class facility here, answer treatment center, in honor of jack murtha. jack was a dear friend of mine, had the honor of serving with him, passed away a couple years ago. we served in congress while we
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worked together on a range of issues. he was a legendary advocate for our men and women in uniform, and he was a strong supporter, strong as i've ever seen in the congress of the military's medical community in particular. jack loved your marks -- earmarks. [laughter] everybody, including myself, used to line up and talk to jack about your marks are -- earmarks. the lincoln movie talks about lincoln sending people up to the hill to basically hand out earmarks in order to get their damn vote.
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that's why one of the reasons they may be having a tough time on capitol hill is because they don't have earmarks to hand out. but jack knew how to do it, and i've never seen anything like it. when the defense authorization bill used to come up, and he used to, the appropriations, i mean, all these appropriations bills used to go on, they used to be amendments, the used to take days. i used to share some of the discussion on the floor of the house on these other bills. but when the defense appropriations bill came up, jack had basically distributed in of earmarks that that bill took about 30 seconds on the floor. so he understood it what it meant, but more quickly, he did in a way that benefited in particular the men and women in uniform. he was totally dedicated. having been a veteran himself, having understood what it meant to go into battle.
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he really understood what men and women in uniform needed. so i'm really delighted to have the john murtha cancer center will stand as a monument to his legacy, to his commitment to our armed forces. the centers provide extraordinary physical care for our military families. but here at walter reed you also understand the importance of caring for emotional health as well. together, military medical personnel and military families i think are raising awareness about those hidden wounds of war, that i talked about, particularly mental health. yet, as we all know too well, the historic rate of suicide within the military continues to haunt us.
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suicide is one of those great and terrible challenges to the health of our force, and one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation, not just a problem that's affecting men and women in uniform, it's affecting society. it's reflected obviously in our men and women in uniform. our greatest challenge is identifying those who need our help. how do we identify those that are facing this kind of terrible crisis? i know that all of you have not and will not rest until there is a lifeline for everyone of our nation's servicemembers. we must make sure that they know they are not alone, that they
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are not alone, that we are here and that we will stand by them. this year alone, the departments of defense and veterans affairs have committed an additional $150 million to support efforts targeting mental health awareness, diagnosis and treatment. we are working to increase the number of mental health professionals, improve access to suicide hotlines, emphasize family counseling. we've got to continue this fight on every front. we've got to make people in the chain of command, people that serve next to each other in a squad, have a sense for looking out for one another, of spotting those conditions, of understanding that there may be trouble. now this is, in many ways, it's a changing society.
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this is my theory and my three alone but part of the problem, working off blackberries and working on computers is that you're focused on that element and you don't reach out as much to talk to one another, and to just communicate with one another. and it's when you do that, when you talk to one another that you understand what the problems are. you can look into their eyes and you can see it. you've got to make sure that people understand that there's a responsibility here to care for one another. we know that it's important to watch people's backs when you're in a foxhole. that applies here. you've got to watch each others' backs with regards to the kind of problems that can impact on people's mental health. that's something we've got to build into the force as well, and we will.
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as our troops return home, we will also help them convert their hard earned experience into roles that are needed by both the military and civilian communities. that means new training programs, pathways, opportunities for our medics, and corbin to become physician assistants or nurses, supporting advanced degrees, streamlining credential requirements. because if someone can save a life in afghanistan, then they can save a life here at home as well. we've got to make that possible. we are working with other cabinet departments and the white house to standardize the way state licensing boards recognize military training and experience. and we are also were can with human resources and services
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administration to recruit members from the medical profession who are interested in pursuing similar careers in the private sector. having a job ready for our returning servicemembers is an important piece of a larger effort to support our service members, our veterans, and our military families as we come out of this decade of war. and all of you have a critical role to play in that effort as well. as you support our troops in their greatest time of need, i want you to know that i will continue to fight, continue to try to safeguard this departments support for your mission. you are, as i said, miracle workers. the absolute best at what you do. and we owe it to you to make
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sure that you have the full support you need in order to do your job. your skill, your dedication, that tender compassionate care that you provide those who serve in uniform, those qualities are second to none. we are proud, extremely fortunate to welcome our troops and their families back for more into your caring arms, into your caring arms. they have fought for us. we have to do everything we can to fight for them. god bless all of you. god bless our military. and god bless this great nation of ours.
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thank you very much for having me. [applause] >> thank you. thanks. all right, i understand we will open the floor for some questions. if you have any questions, please have at it. >> good morning, sir. >> good morning. >> it's been a little over a year since two of your great medical centers came together to create this great medical center. have we met your expectations for the first year? and what are your expectations for the next few years? >> you know, it's always, having
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been through this and having been involved in government service over 40 years, i mean, county my time as a lieutenant in the army, intelligence time, it's close to almost 50 years, and you know, i know having worked in various areas, both in congress and in the executive branch, that doing what we did here is not easy, not easy. you know, so often, you know, part of what you deal with in any bureaucracy, your jurisdictions and turns, people that develop their own area, you know, the challenge of saying you've got to work together, you've got to come together as a team, got to be able to work together, sometimes it's not that easy.
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i have to say when it came to the joint effort here, and part of this may be you know, and the military itself, i think we have developed jointness as a real strength, our real strength of our military. when i go abroad enemy with other defense ministers, talk to them, you know, they are not even close, the level of jointness that we have in this country in terms of our services. it's working. it's doing well. and you here have done exactly the same thing. my biggest challenge is going to be how can we take this model and be able to make sure that we can develop similar approaches -- >> you can see the last few minutes of this in a c-span video library. go to going live to the pentagon as the commander just military operations in the pacific, admiral samuel locklear will be speaking with reporters this morning.
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[inaudible] >> good morning, and aloha. i'm glad to be here to talk to you today about the pacific command, where we are today and we see ourselves heading into future. since the last time i was here we have continued to move forward on our rebalancing initiative efforts as directed by president obama. as you all know, the rebalanced draws on the strengths of the entire u.s. government, including policy, diplomacy, trade, and, of course, security. and that's the area i work in. for me, the rebalanced has been and continues to be about strengthening relationships, adjusting our military posture and presence, deploy new concepts, capabilities and capacities to ensure that we continue to effectively and efficiently

Today in Washington
CSPAN December 6, 2012 6:00am-9:00am EST

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TOPIC FREQUENCY Iran 48, Bahrain 25, Israel 24, United States 23, U.s. 21, Turkey 21, Russia 19, Us 16, Georgia 16, Tehran 11, Azerbaijan 5, Caucasus 5, Turkmenistan 5, Walter Reed 5, America 5, Jean 4, Armenia 4, Washington 4, California 4, Dr. Shaffer 3
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